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Over Aggressive Code Officer

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Birddog3394

Guest
What is the name of your state? Florida

I’ll try not to bore you with the mundane details, but here goes.

The city I live in schedules a collection for brush once a month. In the beginning of August, a tornado came through our neighborhood, uprooting many trees. I considered myself fortunate to have only lost a few large limbs, however my house did sustain damage. I incorrectly assumed that since there was such wide spread debris from this storm, that the city would make an extra pickup, since our scheduled collection was still two weeks away.

My work routinely keeps me away from home for several days at a time. When I returned on the Afternoon of August 7, I found a Notice of Violation taped to my mailbox stating I had 24 hours (which had all ready elapsed) to move the brush pile from the swale. I made arrangements to rent a chipper from Home Depot the next morning (the 8th), but the city collected the brush at 7:30 am, before I could get the chipper.
I looked up the code of ordinance to see if there are any provisions for storm damage. I didn’t find any, however, the code specifically states that brush violations must be addressed within 48 hours (excerpt of the code is pasted below).

The way I read the code, the city was required to give me 48 hours to get rid of the brush, and picked it up prior. The $150.00 ($50 pickup charge and $100 “Administrative Fee”) that was added to my water bill isn’t my greatest concern, but that this code enforcement officer is taking it upon himself to rewrite the code to what ever suits him. I have several calls into his supervisor, which have yet to be returned. This along with the normal apathy you would expect from a municipal office and the fact that no one cares about the city changing the rules as they go along disturbs me. I take pride in maintaining my property and follow the rules (outside of this bad assumption). I have yet to find any provision to dispute these fees, or the way the violation was handled by the city.

The notice of violation was issued 8/6 at 12:47 pm. I requested a copy of the work order from the Environmental Services Division showing the pickup was scheduled for 8/7 but not completed until 8/8 (It was picked up at 7:30 am, but the time is not listed on the work order). There is also a picture taken by the code enforcement officer with a time stamp of 9:45 am on the 7th (within 24 hours of the notice).
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Hollywood FL Code 50.04 A.3.(d)(6)
It shall be unlawful for any person to place brush material out on the swale for City collection any earlier than the Friday preceding the customer's regularly scheduled brush collection week. Any person placing brush material out earlier than this shall be assessed a fee for the City to remove the material if the material is not removed within 48 hours of first notification of violation.
 


HomeGuru

Senior Member
Birddog3394 said:
What is the name of your state? Florida

I’ll try not to bore you with the mundane details, but here goes.

The city I live in schedules a collection for brush once a month. In the beginning of August, a tornado came through our neighborhood, uprooting many trees. I considered myself fortunate to have only lost a few large limbs, however my house did sustain damage. I incorrectly assumed that since there was such wide spread debris from this storm, that the city would make an extra pickup, since our scheduled collection was still two weeks away.

My work routinely keeps me away from home for several days at a time. When I returned on the Afternoon of August 7, I found a Notice of Violation taped to my mailbox stating I had 24 hours (which had all ready elapsed) to move the brush pile from the swale. I made arrangements to rent a chipper from Home Depot the next morning (the 8th), but the city collected the brush at 7:30 am, before I could get the chipper.
I looked up the code of ordinance to see if there are any provisions for storm damage. I didn’t find any, however, the code specifically states that brush violations must be addressed within 48 hours (excerpt of the code is pasted below).

The way I read the code, the city was required to give me 48 hours to get rid of the brush, and picked it up prior. The $150.00 ($50 pickup charge and $100 “Administrative Fee”) that was added to my water bill isn’t my greatest concern, but that this code enforcement officer is taking it upon himself to rewrite the code to what ever suits him. I have several calls into his supervisor, which have yet to be returned. This along with the normal apathy you would expect from a municipal office and the fact that no one cares about the city changing the rules as they go along disturbs me. I take pride in maintaining my property and follow the rules (outside of this bad assumption). I have yet to find any provision to dispute these fees, or the way the violation was handled by the city.

The notice of violation was issued 8/6 at 12:47 pm. I requested a copy of the work order from the Environmental Services Division showing the pickup was scheduled for 8/7 but not completed until 8/8 (It was picked up at 7:30 am, but the time is not listed on the work order). There is also a picture taken by the code enforcement officer with a time stamp of 9:45 am on the 7th (within 24 hours of the notice).
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Hollywood FL Code 50.04 A.3.(d)(6)
It shall be unlawful for any person to place brush material out on the swale for City collection any earlier than the Friday preceding the customer's regularly scheduled brush collection week. Any person placing brush material out earlier than this shall be assessed a fee for the City to remove the material if the material is not removed within 48 hours of first notification of violation.

**A: Based on the mundane details in your post, I must conclude that the City is legally correct.
Should they have used the letter of the law during the aftermath of a tornado, absolutely not.
 
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Birddog3394

Guest
Thanks for your response. I concede that by the "Letter of the law” I shouldn’t have put the brush out, however I’m curious why I wasn’t given the 48 hours, which is also the “Letter of the law”. I’m still having trouble wrapping my brain around this one; if you could please elaborate a bit I would greatly appreciate it. I guess this is why lawyers make the big bucks.
 

HomeGuru

Senior Member
Birddog3394 said:
Thanks for your response. I concede that by the "Letter of the law” I shouldn’t have put the brush out, however I’m curious why I wasn’t given the 48 hours, which is also the “Letter of the law”. I’m still having trouble wrapping my brain around this one; if you could please elaborate a bit I would greatly appreciate it. I guess this is why lawyers make the big bucks.

**A: Are you sure that the notice you refer to is the first notice? It appears that it was the 2nd notice and that is why the time limit is 24 hours because the first notice gave 48 hours.
If you are correct, then you have a basis to appeal the fine based on noncompliance of the 48 hour time limit based on the ordinance.
In most jurisdictions, there is also a provision for emergency requirements that could be put into place during times of a natural disaster or state of emergency, giving the government a right to change the rules or add new ones.
You should send a certified rrr letter stating your position, requesting a copy of the code that references the 24 hour time limit and demanding that the $150 fee be waived.
 

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